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Article • Early imaging assessment of Covid-19
Robot-assisted tele-ultrasound on 5G
Ultrasound specialists at the Hainan Hospital of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Sanya and the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital of Hangzhou successfully conducted robotic tele-ultrasound examinations over a 5G network of four patients with confirmed and suspected Covid-19. They were in Tongxiang and Wuhan, cities some 2600+ kilometres distant.
Report: Cynthia E. Keen
Described online in IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency, lead author Shengzheng Wu MD, of the ultrasound department of Hainan Hospital, and co-authors, explain how they conducted this pilot study to validate a remote bedside ultrasound protocol. They used a MGIUS-R3 robotic ultrasound system (MGI Tech Co., Shenzhen, China) with a specially designed ultrasound instrument with multiple replaceable probes (Wisonic Co., Shenzhen, China) controlled by a robotic arm through sensors. The system was operated by an onsite sonographer who could initiate and visualise procedures from an adjacent room.
With the aid of a 5G network, the protocol of tele-ultrasound is applicable, and is worth consideration as a feasible strategy during such a current infectious public health eventShengzheng Wu et al.
Acquired images were compressed and transmitted on a 5G network with an upload rate of 130 Mbps and download of 930 Mbps. Network latency was 23-30 ms, a rate, the authors reported, seemed like real-time. All cases showed varying abnormalities in both lungs, and cardiopulmonary function and blood volume was assessed remotely.
‘The clinical practice of the four cases of robot-assisted tele-ultrasound provides the possibility of solving the problem of early imaging of patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in isolation,’ write the authors. ‘It enables early diagnosis and repeated assessment, while protecting ultrasound specialists from infection and minimising the use of personal protective equipment. With the aid of a 5G network, the protocol of tele-ultrasound is applicable, and is worth consideration as a feasible strategy during such a current infectious public health event.”